Artist Spotlight: Belinda Marshall
Author: Dana McGorlick-Appelman Date Posted:26 May 2022
We spoke to Melbourne based artist Belinda Marshall about her creative practice, upcoming projects and advice for budding artists.
Tell us about yourself
Belinda: I am a self-taught painter and I've come from working in publishing, like writing and editing and that kind of industry, graphic design. And then when I had kids, which was 18 years ago, I kind of started painting just before I had my first child.
How and why did you get into art?
Belinda: I was always into art at school, and I knew that I wanted to do something like that. But it was a bit different back in my day, in terms of going to uni it was almost kind of a more of a linear thing. You had to go to uni then you had to get a gallery. Well, I didn't go to uni obviously to do fine art, but I knew it needed to be something creative. And so I tried all these with the writing and graphic design and that kind of thing, and it was just never quite enough. So I was always kind of doing things on the side. And I think that a couple of months just before my first son was born, I took a bit of an earlier maternity leave. So I had a couple of months just purely to myself. And that allowed me to just do as much painting as I wanted for no real outcome, which turned out to be really good. So I've just haven't stopped really since then.
How would you describe your work?
Belinda: Recently it's become a little bit more about the landscape. So in the lead-up, it's mostly been abstract. So it's always a tricky one to describe paintings. But they are kind of like the layers are nice and thin and I would say they are bright.
Talk us through the evolution of your art
Belinda: So with abstract, I was just always a little bit more fascinated by the idea of working in that abstract way. I like that unplanned kind of ‘see what happens’ approach. And then I think recently, well with lockdown, I kind of got more into the landscape probably because I was denied access to it. And it's always just been a really big influence even with the abstract work. So it was more of a matter of letting myself focus on that and it just gradually kind of became a little bit more literal.
What does a typical creative day look like?
Belinda: I've now got my studio at home, thanks to lockdown. I couldn't get to the studio, so as soon as I could, I moved home and studio into one place, so I've got lots of room at home for that. And I like to actually just get up early and have a coffee and get straight in there actually, I take lots of breaks to start on.
Where do you source inspiration?
Well for the last body of work that I've just finished, the inspiration was actually the landscape like down in Point Lonsdale where the show is about.
Any particular art movements or artists that inspire you?
Belinda: There’s no real one movement or anything. It's just kind of people like Joanna Logue. I really like people that do abstract landscapes really, with that kind of lens. My favourite is Adam Pyett. He actually uses oils, but I love everything about his work and I love that he uses the landscape as a container for his abstraction and his playful work.
I get inspiration from Instagram. There are so many beautiful artists that I follow. But when it comes to my own work, I like to just really shut Instagram down. Mostly because I know that you can kind of absorb if you are looking at everything, it just creeps into your own work, which is normal and natural. But I kind of think to be able to create a full body of work that feels unique to me, I probably need to just have a bit of space from all of that.
And I just remember having chats with a painter friend of mine about that idea of like, how do you find your own thing without looking at other people's work and without being too academic about it. And so I spent probably a lot of time in lockdown and also in the lead up to making all these works, these new works and watching the changes in my own work happen as I kind of become closer to sort of landscape. Just really thinking about that and about how I can help other people with that kind of finding what's truly theirs. And I think that's quite an inspiring process.
Much of your work features pinks, blues and greens. What is about this colour palette your drawn to?
Belinda: Well, I'm a kid of the eighties, so I kind of like the pastel pinks and blues together and that kind of thing. Green's always been a favourite. And I think with the last collection, I've kind of moved towards oranges and even purples, which I've kind of steered clear off for most of my life. So I guess it kind of evolves and changes. But yeah, pretty colours are good.
How come you still steer clear of purples?
Belinda: It's just always been like a gut reaction too (laughs) aubergine is not my thing except for now. Yeah. So that's quite ironic.
What are your favourite paint brands?
Belinda: I like Matisse and golden. I started out with the golden fluid and then I moved into the heavy body. And the Matisse heavy structure as well. I do thin them down a lot, but I just like that creamy kind of thick paint sort of feel to start with.
What is it about acrylics and embroidery that you love?
Belinda: Acrylics I think are just really convenient. I've played with oils and loved them and I most likely will gravitate towards those down the track when I can. But I like the immediacy of acrylics. Easy to clean up and yeah, the quick drawing is great. And embroidery, it's kind of one of those things where I've always done sort of textile things here and there like knitting, crocheting. I also did that kind of thing at school. So it's just always been in the background and it's just a really relaxing thing to do. So yeah, whenever I'd have a bit of time at home, I would do that kind of stuff.
And then I started seeing it as another way to just create art that was all in the same vein, just that different medium. And it's almost the slowest possible version of painting.
What are your must-have art supplies?
Belinda: Well, good quality paint is a must. I don't have any particular supplies that I have to have. I've got a particular type of brush that I like. But it's not always the most expensive one. It's just whatever feels good. I like the ones that are kind of a bit bouncy and firm, but yeah, I think good paints, good brushes. I like linen.
Linen for the canvas?
Did the pandemic affect your creative practice?
It did. The pandemic definitely did. Because I was in a shared studio. It was really nice to kind of have other painters to chat with and just have access to seeing what other people were up to and that kind of environment was really conducive. So that was a bit of a shift coming home and changing from bigger works to down to small ones again. So yeah, those transitions always feel a bit tricky, but then looking back on them, if they're okay it's always better when you are through those changes. Yeah. There is natural sort of waves of times where I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. Just sort of work through them.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Belinda: I've got the acrylic painting workshop for beginners, the abstract one, that's up and ready to go. And it's like a self-paced one based on the workshops I used to run back in the day when we could all meet in a room. I've got a membership in the works as well. So that's to follow on for people that want to keep painting exploring, finding their style, that kind of thing.
And I've got my show in three weeks' time, which is exciting. It's 20 new paintings. So it's in point one style at a beautiful farm retreat called the lon. They have exhibitions there every six weeks. So it's starting on the 26th of May and that's the preview date. And then run to the 3rd of July, but all the works will be available through my website as well.
Do you have a favourite artwork?
Belinda: Actually I brought my favourite ones. So that one is probably my favourite. And I think it's one of the last ones. So of 20 works, it's right at the end, I think maybe the last one or two can tend to just pop out really quickly. Because you've sort of had all this time to create all the other works. So those are the ones that I find a little bit more special, that come so easily.
How do you combat creative block?
Belinda: I don't really get creative block. I probably get the opposite, I need more time to be creative. And so sometimes that will create a similar problem where if I haven't had enough time of being regularly in the painting, it can take a while to get back into it. So I guess I've always been good with having kids and stuff at being able to fit in, if I've got half an hour, I'll do something really tiny and it doesn't even have to be for a product or anything. It's just getting in that zone. So yeah, just doing it regularly and not expecting too much is helpful.
Any advice for budding artists?
Belinda: I think in terms of learning how to paint and getting started is to just give yourself a heap of time and try not to worry so much as you go. And to also focus on what comes naturally. I think a lot of people fight that they think they should be doing it a certain way. But yeah, I think if it's coming easily and it's enjoyable, then that's why you should let that lead you.
Are your kids arty too?
Belinda: They're creative, but I wouldn't call them arty. My oldest is a musician. So they used to paint with me, but I think they hit about sort of 11, 12 and they're like no, no more. But their paintings were really good. They are actually very inspiring.
Do you feel that art can be a source of escapism and strength through tough times?
Belinda: It’s always positive. Unless of course things are like in that unknown period which can be sort of painful. Of course, that has a negative impact on everything. But thankfully those times are not very often and they don't last for that long. So yeah, I think it's just what keeps me going. And whenever anything else in my life is really tricky I've always been able to use that as a source of strength I guess. And the embroidery is great for that too. Because it kind of, you need your eyes and your hands and everything else. It just is like meditating.
Any intentions to explore other subject matter?
Belinda: Yeah. That's a really good question. I've started thinking about that because I've really enjoyed having the structure of the landscape. I don't think I'll be going closer to representational landscape, like pure landscape. Although you can never say never, the more you say you are not going to do it, it can often be exactly what you go and do. But I think there are still parts of the actual process of painting that are hard to put into a genre that inspire me, just the actual physicality of painting. So there are things in the back of my mind that I can't quite describe that I know I'm going to follow up on afterwards. But yeah, most likely it'll still be landscape related.
Talk us through the process of using the landscape as a source of abstraction.
Belinda: When I was writing the story of this work for my website and for the exhibition, I'm in an artist group in a membership where we can chat about this kind of stuff and help each other out with it. But I was just kind of describing out loud to them, what it means to me to be in the landscape. And it really just dawned on me that I kind of use, say if I'm walking through a landscape, the abstraction comes from not really focusing on the real individual plants. There is the overall thing, but it's almost when you go into that sort of half-dream state where you just kind of absorb it around the edges. Which I guess is probably how I think about it abstraction as well. And that to me is more interesting than sort of getting like a photographic representation of the spaces.
You can find Belinda at:
And on Instagram: @belindajmarshall
Thank you so much to Belinda for taking the time to chat with us about her creative process!
Interview by Dana McGorlick-Appelman
Videography by Drew Campbell
Photography sourced via @belindajmarshall
Thank you!By: Belinda on 28 May 2022Thanks so much Drew and Dana for the chat and video post! Really thrilled to be featured. Thank you :) Belinda